With today’s rising energy costs and with global warming a reality, it’s more important than ever to make our homes as energy efficient as possible. New houses are now required to be designed and built to function at the highest levels of energy efficiency. However, most of us live in houses that were built before modern energy efficiency standards were introduced. Older homes are often solidly built, located in walkable neighborhoods, and near public transport. In many ways, they’re more sustainable choices than newer houses built in less well connected places. However, they often use far more energy for heating, cooling and lighting than they need to, and they may contain old and inefficient appliances. Smart homeowners will address inexpensive problems before moving on to costly upgrades. Here are a few suggestions:
Draft-proof the windows and doors
Most conditioned air escapes from houses through air leakage, not through diffusion through the walls and roof. If you limit air leakage, then your house will hold onto much more of its heated or cooled air, cutting down on the amount of energy used by your heating and air conditioning systems.
Make sure that all of your light bulbs are low-energy
It’s surprising how much energy you can save by switching to compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs. There are now reasonably priced CF bulbs available with glass domes that look good in candle-style fixtures, and CF bulbs that will fit into existing pot lights and track lights.
Control Solar Gain
Solar gain is the heat that’s absorbed through windows, directly from the sun’s radiation. If you live in an area with hot summers, then decreasing solar gain will help to limit the energy you use for air conditioning. If you live in a region with cold winters, then increasing solar gain can help to heat your house. You can use window coatings or coverings with reflective outside surfaces to limit solar gain. To promote it, just open the curtains on a sunny day.
Upgrade your furnace or boiler to a higher efficiency model
The governments in many states and provinces are offering financial incentives for upgrading inefficient boilers and furnaces. Modern boilers and furnaces are operating at over 95% efficiency and will save you a bundle on your gas or electricity bills.
Buy energy efficient appliances
Disposing of an appliance prematurely isn’t necessarily good for the environment. It creates waste, and the energy saved in using a more efficient appliance will be offset by the energy needed to manufacture and transport it. However, if it’s time to say goodbye to an old appliance, then be sure to buy a replacement that’s as energy efficient as possible. In the U.S. and Canada, the most efficient appliances carry the Energy Star label. Don’t neglect to get the old appliance recycled.
More difficult and expensive projects like adding insulation or replacing your current siding with insulated cladding can also be effective at increasing your home’s energy efficiency. However, before considering those options, you will want to do all of the easy and inexpensive things you can to bring down your energy costs. You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference it can make in your home’s energy efficiency.
Brenda is a web content writer for Aware1. She loves to write about home interior and home decoration.